Multi-Level Governance

Brexit Means Brexit Means What? 

 February 16, 2017 - by George Ross, Jean-Monnet Chair ad personam, Université de Montréal

Brexit began with UK PM David Cameron’s flawed strategy to keep Eurosceptics under control by calling the June, 2016 national referendum whose results cost Cameron his job. What soon  followed showed, in Jeremy Kinsman’s words, that the Brexiters were « …the dog that caught the bus : they hadn’t thought what to do next. » The absence of plans was evident in new PM Teresa May’s puzzling announcement that « Brexit means Brexit. »

There followed months of confusion. May appointed three leading Brexiters (including Boris Johnson, who had proposed that the UK could « …have its cake and eat it too») to top Brexit jobs, in part to keep them inside the government tent, but without knowing what they were to do. The new situation also disorganized the British civil service. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty had to be invoked to negotiate « leaving », but excepting those ready to jump over the Brexit cliff without knowing where they would land, leaving remained to be defined. Among the options were staying in the EU single market without a voice in EU affairs, staying in the EU customs union but jettisoning EU laws, regulations, and practices, « cherry picking » desirable parts of the EU  (protecting the City of London and EU research and development, among others), or cutting EU ties and « going global. » Some even thought that people would return to their senses and overrule the referendum results.

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Description/ Members

This thematic group explores increasingly important challenges for advanced democracies. Both Canada and the EU face common challenges to the functioning of their federal democratic systems that include: declining democratic participation (or falling voter turnout), deteriorating political legitimacy, improving government accountability and responsiveness, and ameliorating multi-level governance. Canada and the EU are therefore natural partners who can increase their cooperation in the area of democratic deficits and successful policy coordination in order to encourage popular democratic engagement and participation amongst their citizens.  For more information please visit the Research Cluster Description on the Strategic Knowledge Cluster Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue website.

The activities of the Democratic Deficits and Policy Coordination in Multi-Level Systems Cluster members are lead by Dr. Joan DeBardeleben (Carleton University, democracy aspect) and Dr. Amy Verdun (University of Victoria, governance aspect)

Greece and its European Friends: What's at Stake?

July 10th 2015 - by Dr. Amy Verdun, University of Victoria

On Sunday the Greek citizens gave a resounding answer to the question asked on the referendum as to whether the Greek government should accept the austerity plan as had been negotiated. The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had indicated that a 'no' vote would increase his negotiating power with the creditors following weeks of negotiations with European partners and with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Following a week of uncertainty in the run up to the referendum, the government has imposed capital controls and banks only give out limited amounts of money to citizens.

Greek citizens are also feeling the effects of the economic situation of the country (hints of shortages of food, medicine, gasoline), a situation that has drastically deteriorated in the week ahead of the referendum, leaving everyone wondering exactly what the Greek Prime Minister's strategy was. In fact, following the referendum, the maverick Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varouvakis (who had called creditors 'terrorists') resigned and a more moderate sounding Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, has taken over.

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Social policy coordination in Canada: learning from the EU

April 13, 2015 - by Bart Vanhercke, Madeleine Read, Amy Verdun and Donna Wood


"In the academic world, contributors who venture a comparison between Canada and the European Union (EU) sometimes draw raised eyebrows and sceptical glances. Some scholars, however, note that in contrast to the tight federalism and strong national government that characterise the US model, the Canadian model is much less centralised, most of its powers devolving upon the provinces rather than the federal government - which in many ways mirrors the EU model.  Such a comparison is particularly fruitful for a discussion of social policy, an area in which Canadian provinces may be able to learn from the EU's Open Method of Coordination (OMC), a tool of soft-law governance that promotes goal-setting and mutual learning between Member States."

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International Research Workshop: “Crisis Contained, Democracy Diminished? The Politics of the Eurozone Financial Crisis”


September 2014 - International Research Workshop: “Crisis Contained, Democracy Diminished? The Politics of the Eurozone Financial Crisis”

This conference featured innovative research from established and emerging younger scholars with an expertise in European integration politics from throughout Europe and North America. The day-long conference began with a round table, followed by panel discussions on diverse aspects of crisis or post-crisis politics in the EU. Panel themes discussed included the role of political elites in crisis management at the European and national level, the results of the 2014 European Parliament election, and the potentiality of crisis-induced politicization.



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